St. Mary's Cathedral, Australia


Australia’s first Roman Catholic Church, St. Mary’s Cathedral is a fine example of

English-style Gothic church. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, under the title Immaculate Mother of God, Help of Christians, St. Mary’s Cathedral is situated in the middle

of Sydney City and is a peaceful and beautiful sanctuary amidst the busy, bustling metropolis.


The seat of the Archbishop of Sydney, St. Mary’s Cathedral is the centre of Catholics in Sydney. Made of local yellow sandstone, the architectural style of this structure is

reminiscent of the famous churches in medieval Europe.


The St. Mary’s Cathedral in History:

  • 1788 – With the arrival of the First Fleet came, came soldiers and convicts who were some of them Catholic.

  • May 3, 1820 – Fr. John Therry and Fr. Phillip Conolly are the first Catholic Chaplains of the colony.

  • 1821 – Under the auspices of Governor Lachlan Macquarie, the first stone of the first St. Mary’s Chapel is laid.

  • September 13, 1835 – John Bede Polding, OSB becomes Australia’s 1st bishop. St. Mary’s Chapel becomes a Cathedral.

  • 1842 – The first Archbishop of Sydney is Polding.

  • 1851 – The cathedral is expanded under the design of English architect, A.W.N. Pugin.

  • June 29, 1865 – St. Mary’s Cathedral is ruined by a fire.

St. Mary's Cathedral, Australia


  • 1868 – Construction for the new St. Mary’s begins with the gothic revival design of William Wilkinson Wardell.
  • 1877 – The Archbishop of Sydney is Roger Bede Vaughan, OSB.
  • 1882 – Although still incomplete, the Cathedral’s northern section is inaugurated.
  • 1885 – The third Archbishop of Sydney is Patrick Francis Moran. He will then become the first Cardinal of Australia.

  • 1905 – Debt-free, the Cathedral is solemnly blessed.

  • 1911 – Cardinal Moran is succeeded by Archbishop Michael Kelly.

  • September 2, 1928 – The Cathedral is almost completed and is opened to the public.

  • 1930 – St. Mary’s Cathedral is titled a Minor Basilica by Pope Pius XI.

  • 1946 – The first native Australian born Archbishop of Sydney, Norman Thomas Gilroy succeeds Kelly.

  • 1970 – The Prince of the Catholic Church, Pope John VI, visits Sydney and celebrates mass at the Cathedral.

  • 1971 – Gilroy is succeeded by Archbishop James Freeman.

  • 1986 and 1995 – Visits to St. Mary’s Cathedral by Pope John Paul II.

  • 1998-2000 – Wardell’s spires are built.

  • 2001 – The Archbishop of Sydney is Archbishop (later Cardinal) George Pell.

One of Australia’s historical structures, St. Mary’s Cathedral is the spiritual home of Catholics in Sydney outside the Vatican.